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Insult to Injury - the NSW Aftermath!

There are shades of concern arising from the devastation on the Colloroy waterfront right here in Coromandel. Here is the excellent New Daily story by Tony Kaye: 

Parts of our Eastern Seaboard are just as exposed as the Sydney's North Coast, and high seas just as potentially damaging - worse if if you consider what is going on at Buffalo Beach and elsewhere, and with additional imminent tsunami risk from the Kermadec Trench.  

Suddenly, Sydney home owners are looking closely at sodden insurance documents to see just how the small print includes/excludes the damage that they have suffered in this storm. Mostly, it excludes damage caused by inundation from storms combined with king tides, though that may not be immediately obvious. Insurance companies are no fools, and they have been aware for a long time of the consequences of sea-level change when combined with the storm/tide factors. QBE has some wonderfully ambiguous clauses in their conditions by way of example. 

Our erstwhile sea-view aficionado’s should likewise take the trouble to closely examine (or better still, seek legal advice) on just where they stand in the event of something similar happening on our East Coast as appears inevitable, sooner or later.  

I say this because we should be concerned at the inevitable demands that will be made on every rate-payer in this District should similar devastation occur here, and the insurer’s become notable for their absence. Already warnings have been issued on both premium and availability of cover. So far, our Council has taken either a 'soft,' or a non-committal approach to the need for District funded  disaster relief that while politically ccorrect, may potentially provide unjusifiable comfort to potential claimants.  

There is a natural tendency in major disasters for those affected to turn through their councils to everyone not similarly affected to help out and restore their asset, or bank account. The Christchurch earthquake is a good example, and the role of the Earthquake Commission was as always, to represent us, the general population in restoring the fortunes of those whose homes had been damaged through totally unpredicable circumstances. 

Such cannot be said to be the situation in regard to natural occurrences that can be foreseen to one level or another, and where the owners of the affected properties have failed to exercise due levels of prudence from the outset, while benefiting greatly from capital gain until the ‘penny drops’ as appears to be happening right now, though willing buyers still appear on the horizon.    

There can be no such responsibility on others in these circumstances, and no amount of squealing should result in the ‘easy-way out’ course of action often taken by councils to ‘spread the load’ over the entire rate-payer base on the grounds of ‘un-affordability.’  That was the outrageous rationalisation used by previous councils here (2001 in particular) to ‘spread the load’ of the Eastern Seaboard Wastewater Project – a project that has now cost every ratepayer in this District in excess of $4,000.  

I do not support a ‘beggar thy neighbour’ philosophy, but I do consider that for better or worse, each of us must be prepared to live with the decisions that we make in life, including where we choose to live, particularly when those decisions are made in full knowledge of the risks involved. If people choose to purchase property where there is a substantial risk of inundation through storm or tsunami, then so be it.

Councils can do no better than provide warnings – they cannot save people from their own ill-advised actions.  



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